By; PATRICK TITUS, Uyo
The 146-room Four-star by Sheraton Hotels at Ikot Ekpene, Akwa Ibom State is 97 per cent ready to commence operations before the end of this year.
The expansive 12-floor edifice whose construction started in 2013 was commissioned by the then Governor Godswill Akpabio shortly before his exit in 2015.
But the hotel has come under criticism by indegenes and residents as a failed project because it was yet to commence operations more than five years after it was inaugurated.
Officials of the state government said the hotel was not technically completed before commissioning as most of its facilities failed to meet the standard and specifications of the the hotel managers, Starwood Group whose franchise was later taken over by Marriott.
Director of Projects in the state Ministry of Special Duties, Engr Ephraim Udosen told correspondents who visited the hotel to ascertain the progress and schedule of work that the current administration has made additions and carried out modifications and upgrades in more than 50 key facilities and areas to meet the standards of the hotel managers who have also opened their recruitment portal to demonstrate their readiness to commence operation this year.
Udosen said the hotel has become one of the most technologically advanced in the country after several facilities were added and modifications and upgrades carried out in several of its facilities including the power installations, water treatment process, fire suppression and fighting systems, cooling system and ICT, in line with the requirements of the hotel managers.
According to him, the present administration constructed the parking lots, 310m access and link roads around the hotel, completed outstanding landscaping, procured transformers with switchgears and constructed dedicated power supply lines from the National Grid to the Hotel, ensuring availability of constant power supply.
It also purchased thousands of equipment, funiture and utensils as well as all outstanding Operating Supplies and Equipment (OS & E), Furniture Fittings and Equipment (FF&E) and Information Technology (IT) infrastructure under the agreed US $7.2m released to the Hotel operator.
The administration also provided the first phase of Hotel Guest Room Management System (GRMS) involving the incorporation of setback temperature control devices in all guest rooms Fan Coil Units (FCUs) and certification of all installed Plants, Equipment and Systems like Lifts, Boilers, Chillers, Firefighting Equipment/Systems, Water Quality (Potable, Swimming Pool, Chill Water) etc by third parties as recommended by Marriott.
Others include installation of bomb blast films in all entrance glasses, replacement of Failed Mineral Surface Membrane (FELT) to water proof the concrete roof deck gutters of the main Hotel roof floor and mechanical floor and provision of additional PH correction dosing station for further purification of domestic water supply to the Hotel.
“We also installed Automatic Fire Suppression System (FM200), 20KVA inverter system and additional 12,000 BTU/Hr (3.5kw) – split wall type AC system in the IT room and procured active switches/accessories for the IP close circuit cameras to complete the installation of the CCTV system of the Hotel.
“To tell you how committed Governor Udom Emmanuel is to this project, he ensured that the maintainance contract was reawarded to the original contractors to ensure continuity. The only hindrance now is in attaining the high standards of the hotel.managers in certain areas and in this regard we have attained between 97% and 98%”, he explained.
The FourPoint by Sheraton Hotel alongside the Tropicana Entertainment Complex were the two multi billion Naira entertainment and recreational projects embarked upon by the Godswill Akpabio’s adninistration.
First announced by the then Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide, in 2014, the FourPoint by Sheraton hotel was expected to boost tourist arrivals to the state as well as drive the tourism industry upon completion.
Owned by the Akwa Ibom State Government, the hotel became Starwood’s 10th hotel in Nigeria and its second hotel in Akwa Ibom after Le Meridien Ibom Hotel and Golf Resort.
Starwood Hotels and Resorts has since been acquired by Marriott International Hotels in a deal that was wrapped up in September 2016.